On Monday, a NYC judge ruled that the Jewish Orthodox practice of Kaporos, which involves the slaughter of live chickens, is completely legal.

The ritual, which takes place every year on the eve of Yom Kippur (the Jewish high holy holiday of repentance and atonement), involves transferring your sins to the livestock by swinging the chicken over your head, then slicing the fowl’s head off to complete the practice. According to the New York Post, proponents of the Kaporos tradition say that it has been practiced for over 2,000 years. With Yom Kippur starting next week, on Sept 22, Kaporos has come back into the discussion.


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The court ruling came after a group of concerned Brooklyn citizens going by the name “The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos” sued the city, the NYPD, and local Jewish community leaders over what they believe to be an inhumane and unsanitary practice.

The Alliance’s lawyer, Nora Constance Marino, was shocked at the ruling. Marino says, “I’m devastated because this is an egregious event with respect to public-health issues, quality-of-life issues and animal-cruelty issues.”

In the court papers filed describing the tradition of Kaporos, it says that the meat from the decapitated chickens will be donated to the poor—but The Alliance is skeptical of this claim, arguing that the carcasses of the sacrificed animals are often left to rot in the street.


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The judge in the case, Justice Debra James, did not cite religious freedom in allowing the practice of Kaporos, but instead decided that there was not enough proof that public slaughters constituted a public nuisance.

Because of this ruling, various Hasidic sects throughout the borough of Brooklyn will once again gather in the streets to slaughter chickens as part of their atonement for Yom Kippur. Happy Holidays.

[via The New York Post]